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20 bbl brewing system

20 BBL Brewing System: Craft Beer Production on a Larger Scale

Imagine brewing enough beer to quench the thirst of a lively crowd, experiment with unique flavors, and establish your brand in the competitive craft beer market. That’s the power a 20-barrel (bbl) brewing system offers. Let’s delve into the world of these mid-sized commercial brewing systems, exploring their functionalities, components, and the exciting possibilities they unlock for aspiring brewers.

Unveiling the 20 BBL Brewing System

A 20 bbl brewing system is the workhorse of many successful microbreweries and brewpubs. It bridges the gap between smaller pilot systems and large-scale industrial breweries, enabling brewers to produce significant volumes of craft beer while retaining the flexibility and control essential for experimentation.

Capacity: A 20 bbl system translates to roughly 310-420 gallons of wort (unfermented beer) per batch. This allows for brewing a substantial amount of beer in a single cycle, catering to a wider customer base and enabling brewers to meet market demands. With double-batching techniques, some systems can even produce up to 840 gallons in a single brew day, significantly boosting production capabilities.

Space Considerations: While offering a significant production leap compared to smaller systems, 20 bbl setups still require a dedicated space. They typically occupy areas ranging from 1,500 to 3,000 square feet, depending on the specific layout and chosen equipment configurations. Carefully considering space limitations is crucial during the planning stage.

Design and Layout: 20 bbl systems are typically modular, allowing for customization based on the brewer’s needs and available space. Core components include:

  • Mash Tun/Lauter Tun: This vessel is where grains are steeped in hot water to extract sugars and flavors. Some 20 bbl systems have a combined mash/lauter tun, while others utilize separate vessels for greater control over the mashing process.
  • Brew Kettle: The wort is boiled in this vessel, with hops added for bitterness, aroma, and flavor.
  • Whirlpool: This vessel helps separate the wort from spent grain particles before fermentation.
  • Heat Exchanger: This equipment rapidly cools the wort to a suitable temperature for pitching yeast.
  • Fermentation Tanks: These insulated tanks house the wort during fermentation, where yeast transforms sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
  • Brite Tanks: After fermentation, beer is transferred to these tanks for conditioning, clarification, and carbonation before packaging.
  • Cleaning System: Maintaining a sanitary brewing environment is vital. A proper cleaning system ensures efficient cleaning and sanitization of all equipment.
20 bbl brewing system

Brewing Process with a 20 BBL System

The brewing process in a 20 bbl system follows the same fundamental steps as smaller systems, but on a larger scale. Here’s a simplified overview:

  1. Mashing: Milled grains are steeped in hot water within the mash tun, allowing enzymes to break down starches into fermentable sugars.
  2. Lautering: The sweet liquid extract, called wort, is separated from the spent grains through a lautering process.
  3. Boiling: The wort is transferred to the brew kettle and boiled. Hops are added at specific intervals to impart bitterness, aroma, and flavor.
  4. Whirlpooling: The hot wort is spun rapidly in the whirlpool, creating a vortex that separates out hop particles and other trub (sediment).
  5. Cooling: The wort is rapidly cooled down using a heat exchanger to a temperature suitable for yeast pitching.
  6. Fermentation: The cooled wort is transferred to fermentation tanks where yeast is introduced. During fermentation, yeast consumes sugars and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide.
  7. Conditioning, Clarification, and Carbonation: After fermentation, the beer is transferred to brite tanks for conditioning, where it clarifies and is carbonated to achieve the desired level of fizz.
  8. Packaging: Finally, the finished beer is packaged in kegs, cans, or bottles for distribution and enjoyment.

Choosing the Right Supplier: A Guide for Aspiring Brewers

Selecting the ideal supplier for your 20 bbl brewing system is a crucial decision. Here are some key factors to consider:

  • Reputation and Experience: Look for a supplier with a proven track record and extensive experience in designing and manufacturing high-quality brewing systems.
  • Customization Options: Does the supplier offer flexibility in system configuration to meet your specific needs and space constraints?
  • Equipment Quality: The quality of materials and construction is paramount. Opt for a supplier that uses food-grade stainless steel and adheres to industry standards for brewing equipment.
  • After-Sales Support: Reliable after-sales support is essential for troubleshooting, maintenance, and ensuring the longevity of your brewing system.
  • Price: While cost is a significant factor, it shouldn’t be the sole deciding element. Focus on finding a system that delivers the best value for your investment, considering quality, features, and long-term support.

Supplier Examples and Price Ranges (Sample Data Table):

SupplierReputationCustomizationEquipment QualityAfter-Sales SupportPrice Range (20 bbl System)
Ss BrewtechExcellent (Established brand)HighPremiumComprehensive$300,000 – $500,000
YoLong BrewtechGood (Growing reputation)ModerateHighStandard$200,000 – $350,000
Criveller GroupExcellent (Focus on high-end systems)HighExceptionalPremium$400,000+
20 bbl brewing system

Installation, Operation, and Maintenance

Installing a 20 bbl brewing system requires careful planning and coordination. Suppliers typically offer installation services, ensuring proper equipment placement, connection, and functionality.

Operating a 20 bbl system demands a strong understanding of brewing principles and equipment operation. Brewers should undergo proper training or collaborate with experienced personnel to ensure safe and efficient brewing practices.

Maintaining a 20 bbl system is crucial for optimal performance and longevity. Regular cleaning and sanitation procedures are essential to prevent contamination and ensure consistent beer quality. Suppliers often provide cleaning protocols and guidance on maintaining your brewing equipment.

20 BBL Brewing System: Weighing the Pros and Cons


  • Increased Production Capacity: 20 bbl systems enable brewers to produce significantly larger volumes compared to smaller setups, catering to a wider customer base and market demands.
  • Scalability: These systems offer some level of scalability. With double-batching techniques, production capacity can be further boosted.
  • Greater Control: While offering larger batches, 20 bbl systems still provide brewers with a good degree of control over the brewing process compared to larger industrial setups.
  • Commercial Viability: The production capacity of a 20 bbl system allows breweries to establish a more commercially viable operation and potentially generate higher profits.


  • Space Requirements: These systems necessitate dedicated space, typically ranging from 1,500 to 3,000 square feet.
  • Higher Investment: Compared to smaller systems, 20 bbl setups require a significantly higher initial investment for equipment and potential facility upgrades.
  • Operational Complexity: Operating a 20 bbl system demands more expertise and manpower compared to smaller setups. Brewers need proper training or experienced personnel to ensure efficient and safe operations.
20 bbl brewing system


Q: How much does a 20 bbl brewing system cost?

A: The price range for a 20 bbl brewing system can vary depending on the supplier, features, and level of customization. Expect a range of $200,000 to $500,000 or more.

Q: What size space do I need for a 20 bbl brewing system?

A: A dedicated space ranging from 1,500 to 3,000 square feet is typically needed to accommodate a 20 bbl system, depending on the specific layout and chosen equipment configurations.

Q: Is a 20 bbl system right for my brewery?

A: The suitability of a 20 bbl system depends on your production goals, budget, and available space. If you’re looking to scale up production from a smaller system and have the space and resources, a 20 bbl system can be a great option. However, if you’re just starting out, a smaller system might be a more practical and cost-effective solution.

Q: What factors should I consider when choosing a supplier for my 20 bbl brewing system?

A: Consider the supplier’s reputation, experience, customization options, equipment quality, after-sales support, and of course, price. Don’t solely focus on the lowest cost; prioritize finding a system that delivers the best value for your investment.

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